If the name Jim Peterik doesn’t ring a bell, his music certainly will: the longtime Chicago native and composer of such platinum hits as “Vehicle,” “Eye of the Tiger” for “Rocky III” and “The Search Is Over,” among others, who has had eighteen top-ten hits for classic groups that he founded such as the Ides of March and Survivor along with countless other groups, artists and advertising campaigns, Peterik is so much the gold standard of the songwriting industry that he was asked to write “Songwriting for Dummies.” As a rock guitarist and keyboard player, Peterik is no less dangerous, and despite writing music for all voice types, his own raspy, growling, bluesy vocalizing is one of a kind (that’s him singing “Vehicle,” including its famous break, “Great God in heaven you know I looovve you”). Peterik has written songs of every conceivable style, even country hits, but his latest project, Jim Peterik’s Lifeforce, labels itself “Smooth Jazz That Rocks,” an oxymoron if ever there was one. Peterik’s music has always had a jazz and R&B quality to it, but with an edge; with Lifeforce, things are deliberately toned down and acoustic instruments and jazz grooves predominate, but Peterik’s unique gift for melody and uncanny improvisational skills are still very much in evidence. And while it’s fun to hear Peterik reconfigure his own rock standards with a jazz sensibility, it is the new music that he wrote for the group—much of it instrumental—that is the most tantalizing of the project. Peterik’s Lifeforce includes Ed Breckenfeld on drums, Mike Aquino and Peterik on guitar, Klem Hayes on bass, Christian Cullen, Scott May, Jeff Lantz and Peterik on keyboards, Steve Eisen on sax and flute and vocalist Lisa McClowry. (Dennis Polkow)
July 25, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, (773)478-4408, 8pm. $15 (advance), $20 (door).
Dennis Polkow is an award-winning veteran journalist, critic, author, broadcaster and educator. He made his stage debut at age five, was a child art prodigy and began playing keyboards in clubs at the age of fourteen. He holds degrees in music theory, composition, religious studies and philosophy from DePaul University in Chicago. Polkow spent his early years performing and recording in rock and jazz bands while concertizing as a classical pianist, organist and harpsichordist and composing, arranging and producing for other artists. As a scholar, Polkow has published and lectured extensively and taught at several colleges and universities in various departments. As an actor, narrator and consultant, Polkow has been involved with numerous films, plays, broadcasts and documentaries. As a journalist, Polkow helped co-create the experiential Chicago Musicale and Spotlight, the award-winning tabloid arts and entertainment section of the Press Publications chain of newspapers, which he later edited. He also created and ran the nationally recognized journalism program at Oakton College and was faculty advisor to its award-winning student newspaper; many former students went on to major media careers, including Channel Awesome’s the Nostalgia Critic. Polkow’s research, interviews, features, reviews and commentaries have appeared across national and international media and he has corresponded from the Middle East, Asia and Africa for the Chicago Tribune. Contact: email@example.com